Be careful with certain terms
The bills of many German eateries are sometimes suspicious, and information about the tax return is often phased out in order to obtain the greatest financial advantage. A private date in a restaurant quickly turns into a business meal, regular expenses are declared as special expenses on your tax return. As established by Die Zeit in 2014, restaurants top the list of tax evaders. Invoices are issued in such a way as to bring tax benefits for a given operator or other benefits. With these bills, restaurants, but also other businesses, operate in a legal gray area.
Such invoices are distinguished by certain keywords. If it says “Interim Account” at the top of your bill, you should pay attention. The statement “This is not an invoice” is also on the individual list of ordered items. Other terms such as “indirect document”, “preliminary invoice”, “preliminary invoice” and “cash receipt” should raise customer suspicion.
However, one restaurant makes it clear: Providing a provisional bill would not be a fraudulent process. This is necessary in order to first find out from the restaurant guest if he wants to pay in cash, by card or by direct debit. If a tax invoice has been requested, it will be issued. But even with the table cashing in without an additional receipt, all the tax information would of course be entered correctly. If you are in any doubt about an invoice, always request the correct invoice. If you bring it, you don’t need to worry.
Tax fraud amounts to billions
These pseudo-invoices are often deleted in the evening at the checkout. According to a study by Die Zeit, the fact is that many innkeepers in gastronomy do not trust their employees and also their bosses. If the customer asks for an anomaly in the invoice, nobody knows anything and sends you to the next authority. That is why there are cash registers now so that operators know who has made the billing and when. The state, in turn, uses these cash registers for owner checking as invoices must be listed with the invoice number for the tax auditors. The OECD knows that modern cash registers in particular open up a wide range of options for tax evasion, for example through software. The amounts are now in the billions. The Federal Court of Auditors estimates that tax evasion in gastronomy is worth ten billion euros, and the tax association even assumes that this is only the minimum.
Hypersoft GmbH sells software packages for food service cash registers and accounting. Their guide explains when to use invoices or “pro forma receipts”, noting that if guests pay with a debit or credit card, verifiable invoices must be used as these payments are traceable. In conclusion, pseudo-accounts should only be used for cash accounts. However, Hypersoft Managing Director Andreas Kroll replies that the instructions are old and that the Hypersoft system has been tamper-proof since 2005. Invoices cannot be deleted, nor can pro forma documents. There are stories of a beer garden that would sell the same amount of beer every day, whether it was sunny or snowy, or a sausage seller who used five times as many forks as officially sold sausages.
However, the receipt itself that reads “recurring invoice” is not necessarily a scam. As reported by the tax office in downtown Münster, there are various ways to manipulate taxes, which are often incomprehensible. This can take the form of an early morning cancellation with a so-called zappers, fire extinguishers, but also in countless other variants. Many things are no longer understood at the end of the shift. However, catering establishments are not directly at risk due to tax fraud controls. Statistics from the Federal Ministry of Finance show that an inspector only appears in small restaurants every 100 years. In addition, inspectors must announce in advance what period will be checked, unless there is a specific suspicion that a crime has been committed.
Legal consequences for clients
But what if the private person pays the manipulated invoice? “Private individuals are under no obligation to report crimes that have already occurred. Even those who learn of a planned crime do not have to inform the investigating authorities – except for certain, particularly serious crimes, such as homicide or robbery. Only then is it mandatory The suspicion of tax evasion is not one of them. Here, restaurant guests have nothing to fear, explains Christian Solmecke, lawyer and partner of the Cologne media firm “Wilde Beuger Solmecke” in the Express newspaper. . Nevertheless, customers can report their suspicions to the competent tax authority, which will then consider the complaint.
Editors of finanzen.net
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